By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (January 24, 2017) — Third-year Stephenville ISD superintendent Matt Underwood was given a one-year contract extension Monday night.
Trustees voted to extend Underwood’s contract through the 2021-22 school year, which would be his eighth year overseeing SISD. The contract is five years and Underwood has been given a one-year extension each passing year.
“I’m excited about the future of our district and feel very blessed to be here in Stephenville,” said Underwood Tuesday morning.
Underwood’s first three years at Stephenville have been eventful and, he believes, progressive. He came to Stephenville after serving as superintendent at Lago Vista.
Digital learning has been the top priority of Underwood’s first three years at Stephenville, as illustrated again at Bond Auditorium Monday by trustees unanimously approving the district becoming a District of Innovation.
A district-wide digital learning plan known as iChampion continues to be rolled out in stages and has already earned SISD numerous distinctions. The district even hosted its first iChampion Summit last summer, a technology in education conference for area educators, and plans to make it an annual event.
At the heart of the iChampion program is a 1-to-1 student technology plan that places an appropriately equipped device in the hands of all students grades 3-12. Rollout of Apple iPads progressed in stages, beginning with Hook Elementary third and fourth graders, followed by Gilbert Intermediate fifth and sixth graders, and most recently, Henderson Junior High students, who received theirs just last week to begin this semester.
High school students are scheduled to receive devices this fall.
“It’s really been amazing how adaptive our staff has been,” said Underwood. “I never expected the level of enthusiasm and excitement they have had in looking at education in a whole new light.”
Underwood guided the district through a tax ratification election, allowing a tax swap to open up more maintenance and operations funding to help cover the costs of the The iPads and related software and equipment.
Underwood took over in Stephenville just in time to oversee the opening of new facilities at Chamberlain and Central elementary schools, and recently worked with trustees and administrators to establish a drug testing program for high school students participating in extracurricular activities.
He has more big ideas in mind for SISD, including showcasing how technology is affecting its classrooms.
“Communication is a big goal of mine moving forward. I don’t feel like we do a real good job showcasing what we do in the classroom. I think people see it in terms of our extracurricular activities, but not the general classroom,” Underwood said. “We need to know, how is what we are doing in the classroom effecting the learning process, and we want our parents and community to know it and be able to see it and take pride in it.”
Underwood began at Stephenville in the summer of 2014, replacing Darrell Floyd, who retired from education in Texas and became a superintendent in Oklahoma.